Anbang Insurance Group Co., the Chinese company that has curtailed a global acquisition spree amid questions about its ownership and financing, said chairman Wu Xiaohui is unable to perform his duties because of personal reasons, Bloomberg reports.
Other senior managers are authorized to carry out Wu’s responsibilities and operations are normal, the Beijing-based company said in a statement posted on its website.
The news, amid a crackdown on financial risk-taking in China, adds to the intrigue surrounding one of the country’s most aggressive overseas dealmakers, which only came into being in 2004.
Since it embarked on a global takeover spree three years ago, Anbang has drawn attention for making preemptive offers and disrupting transactions already in place. Wu has personally negotiated deals without using traditional investment banks.
Caijing Magazine reported on its website late on Tuesday that Wu was taken away by Chinese authorities on June 9, citing unidentified people. The report said that officials from the China Insurance Regulatory Commission met with a small group of Anbang staff on June 10 and didn’t provide specific reasons for Wu being taken.
The report, which said it wasn’t clear whether Wu was assisting with a government investigation, was later deleted from the magazine’s website. Caijing didn’t immediately answer calls and emails requesting comment before regular business hours in Beijing.
A person familiar with the matter told the South China Morning Post that Wu had been “assisting relevant investigations” and previously had always returned to his office or home after a few hours of questioning. Wu hasn’t returned since he was taken away at the end of last week, the person said.
Anbang on June 2 denied a Financial Times report that said Wu was barred by Chinese authorities from leaving the country.
CIRC declined to comment to Caijing, and Bloomberg’s phone calls to CIRC spokesman Zhang Zhongning outside business hours weren’t answered. Anbang’s US representatives said they had no immediate comment.
Wu, who married the granddaughter of reform leader Deng Xiaoping, doesn’t speak English and often travels with translators. The vast majority of Anbang is collectively owned by relatives of Wu or his wife, Zhuo Ran, according to the New York Times.
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